‘The Road’, ‘Book Of Eli’

Originally published at Notes from the bunker…. You can comment here or there.

Finally went and saw ‘The Road’ yesterday and, unsurprisingly, it was as unfocussed and incoherent as the book. I see some folks in the blogosphere saying this movie is terrible in regards to the way the main characters try to survive. You know, that’s absolutely true except that this isn’t a movie about survival..or preparedness..or even father/son relationships. The movie certainly has a message, although I haven’t figured it out…but the post-apocalyptic setting is just stage dressing to deliver the message. The setting is just more symbolism for the metaphors that are being shown. So what is the movie really about? I have no clue. It isn’t about survival, that’s pretty obvious. It isn’t about relationships..at least, not the obvious father/son relationship. Is it about good versus evil? Meh…not really sure on that score. I think it may be a movie about the ‘nature of man’ versus the ‘nature of hope’. Really, its far more brainpower than I was planning on devoting to this movie.

If you read the book there’s really no need to see the movie. The book is, of course, better (which is a subjective term in this case) because you have a better understanding of whats going on in the characters head. Otherwise, skip the movie and, if you can, skip the book.

Speaking of movies, I did go see ‘The Book Of Eli’ last week. A bit more of what you expect in a post-apocalyptic action movie. A cross between Mad Max and Waterworld. For me the only nit to pick was the heavy religious message but you gotta take the good with the bad, I suppose.

Both movies do have one thing in common, they both portray a disaster that created an extremely prolonged time of crisis. ‘The Road’ takes place ten years after the end of the world and ‘Eli’ takes place almost thirty years after. In both movies society has, apparently, made almost zero progress in re-establishing itself into anything more cohesive and functioning than Bartertown in Mad Max.

While I can believe that there’s the possibility of huge catastrophic end-of-the-world scenarios actually occurring, I have a hard time believing that much of anything will happen that will put such a global whammy on the planet that decades later we’re still wearing plastic bags on our feet and eating cockroaches. Are there events that make that sort of thing possible? Maybe…a ‘Lucifers Hammer’ type of disaster, perhaps. The asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs, maybe. But something that drops humanity into the stone age for a few decades before it can have electricity and antibiotics again? That would take some serious damage.

What is the very first rule of surviving a disaster?

The first rule of preparedness in regards to surviving any disaster is this:
Don’t be there.

“I’m going to visit my Aunt Selma tomorrow. She’s three hundred miles from here and the news is forecasting enormous flaming rocks falling from the sky for an area covering the whole length of my trip. How much food and water should I take for the trip? You know, just in case?”

a) Three days worth of food and water
b) seven days worth of food and water
c) Don’t make the trip, moron.
“I’m going elk hunting tomorrow. The area I’m hunting in was just discovered to be on an ancient cursed Indian burial ground. And there’s an escaped axe-murderer who they think may be in the area. And the forecast is for six feet of snow and toxic gas. Should I take my .300 Win. or the .30-06?”

a) The .300 Win. for those long flat shots
b) The .30-06. Its heavy timber up there. It’ll all be close in.
c) Stay home or go somewhere else, idiot.
“The news says there was a 10.1 earthquake about three miles offshore from our beach house. We can see the water receding waaaaayyy back from the shore. Theres all sortsa fish and clams just sitting out there. We’re going to go grab some for dinner. Would you like to come along?”

a) Sure, I’ll be right there
b) Ok, but I have to pass on the shellfish. Keeping kosher.
c) Can’t hear you, I’m driving 100 mph uphill and inland as far as I can.

Most disasters aren’t nice enough to make an appointment. (Although some do.) A lot of times you have to play the hand your dealt when its dealt. No choice. But….many times you do have a choice. If youre terrified a hurricane is going to eat your house, dont live near the beach. If youre terrified an earthquake is going to swallow your car, move out of California. If tornadoes make your wet you pants, get outta Kansas. If violent crime makes you scared, move outta NYC.

The folks who sat through Katrina had a couple days notice that things were going to get ugly. “Oh, but they were the poor and underpriveledged. They had no way to leave!” Sure they did. I guarantee you that if I put a gun to your head and told you that if you cant find $50 in the next three days Im going to kill you, you’ll come up with fifty bucks. Those people could have taken a bus, a train, or just bought a cheap bicycle and gotten far enough inland in three days that they weren’t stuck on rooftops baking in the sun waving at Coast Guard helicopters.

I’ve had times when I wanted to travel to gun shows that were a hundred or so miles from here. Roads were a bit icy, blowing wind, snow, cold, the whole nine yards. I easily have enough gear that if I went off the road into a ditch I’d be perfectly fine. Warm, fed, hydrated, comfy, and probably even sleep well. But why buy trouble? I skip the trip and figure I’ll go to the next one.

Im not saying everyone who gets in a disaster and stuck on a FEMA food line is responsible for what happened to them. Sometimes Mom Nature can be a nasty old broad. But there are plenty of situations out there that a little common sense and self-preservation would suggest you avoid.

The best way to survive any disaster: do not be there.

Haiti, SHOT show

Originally published at Notes from the bunker…. You can comment here or there.

Haiti continues to be in the news, which makes sense considering its a pretty big deal as far as disasters go. I said that Katrina would be the paradigm, the baseline, the benchmark for measuring and comparing disasters for quite some time and I still think it will but mostly for domestic ones. Realistically, a disaster like what happened in Haiti probably wouldnt have had nearly as severe repercussions in the US. So, while Haiti will be the standard for measuring disaster response in international (esp. Third World) scenarios I think Katrina will be the benchmark for US disasters.

Of course, certain parallels are shared…infrastructure failure, major logistics failures, many cases of ‘all dressed up and nowhere to go’ rescuers sitting idle because no one knows where to go or has the ability to get there, etc, etc.

Does this mean there aren’t lessons to be learned out of Haiti that are applicable to those of us living in the US? Nope, there are plenty of lessons. Whats the biggest one? Stuff happens. Be prepared.

Haiti is very much worth watching because disasters like these are incredible opportunities to see what works, what doesnt and what unforeseen problems arise.
A fella I know returned from the SHOT show (which had its own drama with a few arrests being made by the feds. Most notably a S&W suit. Go Google it.) with a few catalogs and such. One of the interesting things was the folks at PTR (makes of the fine HKlones of HK-91s) have, of all things, a version in 7.62×39. Yeah, makes no sense to me either. I mean, why spend around $1100 for an HK91 in 7.62×39 when any garden variety AK will be just as reliable. Sure, accuracy will probably be better but Im just not seing a need for a 7.62×39 HK91 clone. However, as someone who used to own an original HK93, I gotta tell you…a .223 variant would be mighty nice. Reliabile and accurate, it would be a great alternative to the piston AR’s that seem to be all the rage these days. No moving parts on the barrel to affect accuracy so theyd shoot quite nicely. Get it to take AR mags, price it around $1000 and you’d have quite the seller, me thinks.

Is it looting or is it scavenging?

Originally published at Notes from the bunker…. You can comment here or there.

I’m having some intellectual difficulty between ‘looting’ and ‘scavenging’. Some of it is pretty clear-cut to me – a fellow climbing out of a shattered Best Buy lugging a big-screen television is not scavenging for the essentials of survival. (Although one apologist opined that he was going to possibly sell the TV to get money to buy essentials.) That person is, by any definition, I think, a looter.

The person who grabs a gallon of milk and a bag of fruit out of a collapsed bodega? Well, it is stealing…or looting. But it’s a bit more understandable and, to some folks, excusable.

The argument that Im seeing is that if you are taking items necessary to your immediate survival then it isn’t looting. I’m not sure I agree with this. Right now there’s homeless people living on the street. If the temperature plummets tonight will it be okay for them to walk into the local WalMart and walk out of there with a sleeping bag they didn’t pay for?

“But that’s different”, you say. “We’re talking about during a disaster.” Are we? If your need is that critical, what difference does it make if its during a disaster or not? Haiti, in every news report I have seen, is listed as the poorest nation in the western hemisphere. Even before the earthquake there was poverty, hunger and disease. All that has happened now is that it is on a grander scale. So, before the earthquake, would those Haitians living in squalor, hungry and sick, been scavenging if they ran into their local market and took what they needed? Or would that have been looting and stealing?

I do recall that one belief system has mortal and venial sins. Felonies and misdemeanors, I suppose. Some sins were sending you straight to hell and some might get you a stern talking to from the imaginary man in the sky. I am inclined to think that looting is like that. Steal a Rolex and youre going to jail, steal a case of bottled water and you pay a fine and try to keep your nose clean for the next six months. Give the clerk of the court $25 on your way out the door and don’t forget to write your apology note to the storeowner.

All unlawful taking of property is stealing. (And, honestly, theres some lawful taking that Im not terribly approving of either.) Whether it’s a PlayStation or a package of diapers, it is all looting. However, I would probably be far more…lenient…to the person stealing diapers, baby formula and drinking water than I would be to the person stealing Nikes, Nintendos and Heinekens.

If I was stuck in such a situation would I crawl into a shattered grocery store and loot food and water? If I genuinely needed it, absolutely. But I’d also understand what I was doing and be prepared to pay the consequences. This is one of the reasons I try doggedly to make sure Im not put into that position.

Haiti, food

Originally published at Notes from the bunker…. You can comment here or there.

Haiti, before the earthquake, was a Third World toilet and even after the outpouring of aid will continue to be a Third World toilet. Truly, if the world is so moved by the plight of the Haitian people why weren’t they as concerned when they were suffering before the earthquake? Why? Because, at the moment ‘The earthquake in Haiti’ will be the trendy thing to be concerned over. Remember the whole ‘We Are The World’ nonsense back in the 80’s?

I’m more interested, naturally, in what happens in terms of social dynamics and infrastructure. What sort of problems arise, how are various problems overcome, etc, etc. And, of course, it makes one think of how they’d fare in such a situation.

Montana isn’t the most geologically stable place on the map. Sure, we’re not built on terrestrial Jello like California, but we’ve been known to shimmy a bit from time to time. Just recently there was a quake around 4.1 not all that far from here. The Californians among us will chuckle and say that they don’t get out of bed for anything less than a 5. I think a 7.3 is probably about the worst we’ve had since folks started keeping track of this stuff here. Montana, being fairly sparse in terms of population, didn’t suffer too much…a road was closed, a new lake was formed, and 28 people died, including a few campers when a boulder landed on their tent. But, as people like to point out, once the superubermegadeluxevolcano in Yellowstone goes all of Montana will be deposited into the atmosphere and we’re all doomed. I don’t believe that, but that’s what the doomists say.

Montana, being 14 times bigger than Haiti and about 1/10th the population would probably fare just fine. Rather than deal with bad water, unsanitary conditions, lack of food, no power and that sort of thing, some of us would simply get in our trucks and drive a couple hours out of the affected area. After all, the number one rule of surviving a disaster is….dont be there. If we did have to stay for a few days for the roads to get cleared, or if we just decided to stay because we’re contrary bastards, we’d do pretty well, assuming we had access to our gear and supplies. Even in midwinter we’d still be able to provide heat, light and cooking for at least a week or two. Plenty of drinking water and the filtration to make more. More food than we could possibly need for such an emergency. Plenty of first aid gear. Bedding, blankets, tents and clothes. And personal protection on an absurd level.

Come to think of it, I think we have enough gear, ammo, guns, food and water to, were we there, effectively become the new government.
Speaking of not starving to death, in the immortal words of Leeroy Jenkins “at least I have chicken.” Remember that case of chicken I was oohing and ahhing over at CostCo? Yeah. That thing is sitting in the deep freeze as we speak. A total of 54 sealed packages of chicken, two chicken breasts per pack. Total weight, approx. 63#. That should last us a nice while. Into the summer most likely. Its not like we have chicken every day. But we’ll be in a position now that, should things get a little tight or bizarre, we’ve got yummy animal protein just a few footsteps away from the stove.

Gotta pick up an equal amount of pork and beef and then, by Crom, I’ll be a happy little camper. At least, until the power goes out and I have to can all of that but even then it still beats starving like the Haitians.

Hey, speaking of food, here’s some weirdness. The missus and I were in WallyWorld getting some groceries and there was a curiosity in the dairy case. Grabbing a quart of milk, the expiration date (or ‘best by’ date if you prefer) is around Jan. 27. About two weeks. Okay, that makes sense. Look over at the Darigold milk. Same thing – one quart, whole milk. Expiration? March something or other. WTF? First thought was that it was a mistake on their part in the dating process. But, no, it was consistent across the board. Why was the Darigold milk clocking in at over a month longer shelf life than the other brands?

A quick trip to Google provides. It seems that if one looks closely, you’ll see the Darigold is labeled as ‘super-pasteurized’ or somesuch. Essentially, they use the UHT process of pasteurization. Whats that mean? Go look it up on wiki. The practical upshot is that the unopened container will keep for a lot longer than a similar container of the regularly pasteurized stuff. However, and this is a big caveat, once the container is opened the milk goes bad at the same rate as the regular stuff. So, it’ll keep unopened in the fridge for quite a while but once you crack it open you gotta use it up as fast as you would regular milk.

Wheres the advantage? Well, for me, I only use milk on cornflakes and a little bit in cooking. So its entirely possible I can buy a quart of milk but not use it for a couple weeks. For me, this is a good choice. If you’ve got three kids and go through a couple gallons a day, no real benefit.

The more savvy of you out there will recognize this as the claim to fame of the Parmalat milk products and indeed UHT is the process that is used by Parm. I’ll be contacting Darigold Monday to ask them some more questions about this.

Article – Gang members in Haitian slum profit from disaster

Originally published at Notes from the bunker…. You can comment here or there.

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – “If you don’t kill the criminals, they will all come back,” a Haitian police officer shouts over a loudspeaker in the country’s most notorious slum, imploring citizens to take justice into their own hands.

Positively medieval.

On a side note, the weapons I see most in terms of firearms are shotguns. I’m guessing thats what most of the cops carried there. Guy with an AK, a 55-gallon drum of water, some gas, and a pallet of freezedrieds could be the new president down there.

Video – Dirty Bomb Diaries

Originally published at Notes from the bunker…. You can comment here or there.

Someone sent me a link to this. To be honest, I haven’t watched very much of it at all, but I get the general impression of what its about and perhaps some of you might find it interesting.

Dirty Bomb Diaries on YouTube

I should also like to point out that YouTube has a huge number of videos on topics relating to preparedness. Some may be incorrect, and some may carry some…unsavory…political or racial themes, but regardless theres quite a bit of info for the LMI out there.


Originally published at Notes from the bunker…. You can comment here or there.

In more pleasant news, Marlin has introduced their .357 levergun in stainless steel. I’m gonna need one of those. While my blued Marlin will last me a lifetime with proper care, I would rather have something for those times when improper care will be the order of the day…snow, mud, water, dirt, blood, and all the other things that a lifetime of bumping around in the outdoors can bring will eventually turn even the best blue job into rust and freckling. Stainless steel isn’t exactly impervious to everything but it’s a better choice in terms of vulnerabilities than blued.
While Im on the subject of .357s, two things I’d very much like to see are a Ruger semiauto carbine in .357, just like their .44; and a ‘convertible’ DA-revolver in 38/357/9mm. Ruger has done convertibles in their single action guns (38-40/10mm, 32 H&R/.32-20, .45 Colt/ACP, 357/9mm, and .22 LR/Mag) and even made a few in their autos (9mm/30 Luger). But a convertible DA would be nice for guys like me that want to hedge their bets on where their ammo is coming from.
I suppose I could always have an extra cylinder made up and mated to a GP100 or something, but it would be nicer if it came from the factory.
I like the .357 guns because of their versatility. Obviously, the biggest attraction is that they’ll shoot the common .38 Special round as well as the .357. Someone might say that since the .44 Magnum will also shoot the .44 Special round, it is equally as versatile and since the .44 Magnum is more powerful it’s a better choice than the .357. Problem with that argument though is that youre supposing that .44 Special ammo is as frequently found as .38 Special, which Im pretty certain is not the case. (And don’t get me wrong, Im a huge fan of the .44 Special.)
In terms of ballistics the .357 has enough power to do what you usually ask a self-defense pistol to do, although on the big furry things with claws it will take a backseat to the .44 Mag. But, thus far, I haven’t run across much that the .357 wouldn’t kill just as dead as long as one was careful with their shooting.
There was a time when I was able to buy police trade-in Smith & Wessons for about $150 each and I picked up a bunch. I figured they’d make excellent pistols for tucking away in nightstands or leaving under the seat of the truck….reliable, relatively cheap, and ultimately disposable. Of course, they also make excellent trading stock and are great candidates for loaning to friends.
I remember reading somewhere about the notion that if you lived somewhere that had a ban on ‘assault weapons’ (or had to visit such a place) a combination like that would be a good one to have in case things took a turn for the apocalyptic. Its an interesting notion but I think its flawed – if the wheels fly off civilization to the point that you need a rifle and pistol I think things have degraded to a point where no one is going to care if the gun youre shooting zombies with is prohibited in that state.
Any discussion like this usually starts up the “Do pistol caliber carbines have any place in your plans” thread. The argument is that pistol caliber carbines (and this includes things like Uzis, Thompson guns, HK94s, Marlin Camp Carbines, etc, etc.) are, by virtue of their pistol calibers, not as powerful as a regular carbine (AK, AR, etc) and since youre carrying a carbine-sized gun why not have it be in a more powerful cartridge? Surely carrying two different kinds of ammo isn’t that much hardship, right? A handful of AK mags and a couple Glock mags are no big deal.
Im not sure how to respond to that. I’m reminded of the reason for the .30 Carbine and current crop of PDWs – for occasions where more firepower is needed than a regular pistol, but a full size carbine is not likely to be needed. As the story goes, the .30 Carbine was developed as a replacement for the handgun in use by troops that normally were not expected to be in combat. For example, document couriers, motorpool, tank mechanics, etc,…anyone who it wasn’t expected would have to do any fighting but just might get caught up in some anyway. No point in the toting around a 10# Garand that they’d almost never use, but if they did get caught they’d need something with more range and firepower than a 1911. So, the M1 Carbine came to be. Sure, it was an anemic cartridge but it wasn’t designed to replace the Garand, it was designed to replace the 1911.
Nowadays though, we have carbines that aren’t much heavier than the M1 Carbine but are considerably more powerful, so is there a need for the pistol caliber carbine? I’m not sure. They’re certainly handy guns…if a guns longevity were determined solely by ballistics the .30-30 would have disappeared about seventy years ago. But because the guns chambered in it were light, handy and well-suited of for the task they have endured and kept .30-3o around when it should have been relegated to the section of Cartridges Of The World pertaining to obsolete cartridges.
Pistol caliber carbines are, by and large, cheaper to shoot, cheaper to reload for, have less penetration (if that sort of thing is a concern), have less recoil, and in the case of semiautos can put out much more lead in a shorter time with more accuracy than a comparable handgun would. Other than that, there don’t seem to ba many advantages.
One advantage, though, is that a pistol caliber carbine is far easier to suppress than a more powerful carbine. And a suppressed carbine will be steadier to aim and probably a little more accurate at range than a suppressed handgun. I’ve often thought of having the end of my Marlin threaded for a suppressor and shooting 200 gr. .38 Specials out of it. Subsonic but still enough weight to make an impression.
So, I guess Im not sure if pistol-caliber carbines have a place. I still like my little Marlin, and I’d like very much to pick up an Uzi somewhere. But as to whether they offer any real advantage over an AK or AR carbine, Im not sure.